Narayana Murthy

by Guruprasad

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An easy way to reach the top? :)

Narayana Murthy (NRN), at old Infosys campus in 1990s. Since most of them know about the story of Infosys and NRN, let me narrate some interesting and rare facts which many might not know.

If Indian engineering students have taken job placements for granted, it is because of visionaries like Narayana Murthy. He is the Sultan of Indian IT but the journey was not as smooth as that of Tipu Sultan or other kings who were born in royal families.

Coming from a middle class family, like any other Indian, he had a dream of getting into IIT. He had managed to clear the IIT-JEE exams but his father could not afford IIT hostel and tution fees, due to which he made up his mind and joined a local engineering college (NIE, Mysore). He said to himself “All students from the IITs study well and do big things in life. But it is not the institution, ultimately it is you and you alone who can change your life by hard work” and he went on to prove his statement!! After engineering, he received Master’s degree from IIT Kanpur.
Not many know that his first job was at IIM-A as systems engineer (also, he had 5 job offers including HMT, Air India, Telco after graduation but took up IIM-A which was the least paying).

He was initially a firm believer of communism but an interesting incident changed his life which led him to become a capitalist & an entrepreneur. During a foreign visit, for having talked against the Bulgarian govt with somebody in train, NRN was jailed for 4 days without food but later released because he was from India (which was a friendly country to them). This changed his life, he gave up the idea of communism and decided to create jobs in India. Thats how the story of his entrepreneurship started.

Infosys was his second attempt as an entrepreneur. The first one being Softronics, which was targetted to domestic market. Since India was not mature for IT yet, it turned out to be a big flop. So he started InfoSys (yes, the S was capital) and the rest is history.

Here is an interesting 3 min clip from a BBC documentary showing Infosys, Indian IT in general and the impact on India.

The journey of Infosys was certainly not smooth and had seen lots of obstacles. Getting a computer took them 24 months, thanks to our govt red tape. Getting a loan was almost impossible. And at some point of time, the company was even at the verge of a sell-out. How they overcame all those troubles and became such a successful company is another story which I will be narrating using a different photo later :)

As usual, our next question. What is thought provoking in this story and what can we learn from it?
NRN has demonstrated that even if you are from a middle class family, inspite of studying in a local college, and being without any money to start a company & inspite of license raj of 1980s, you can go on to succeed in life and build a great empire by creating millions of jobs. He has shown that you need not have a surname called Tata/Birla to be successful. You dont have to be only from IIT to succeed. All it takes is hard work, determination & self confidence!! Hoping to see many more Narayana Murthys in future :)